Thursday, October 23, 2014

Throwback Thursday: Chicago Marathon in 2006.

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In October of 2006, I took a quick weekend trip to Chicago. It was my first full year teaching (and learning!) in KCK, and Jennie had just started grad school at Northwestern. She moved from California to Chicago and purchased a whole new wardrobe for life on Lake Michigan. Rachel and Sol flew in from Boston so that they could run the Chicago Marathon.

Because I couldn't take time off from my eighth graders, I traveled with everything I needed in a backpack. That's my reasoning for why I look so exceptionally awesome in the photo above. Jennie and I worked hard to track Rachel all over town and never saw her once during the marathon. The crowds are kind of ridiculous in Chicago, but they are also inspiring. I'm sure I cried and cheered and loved every minute of the marathon watching.
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We did manage to find Rachel at the end of the race, and apparently the sun came out enough for these very large and ridiculous sunglasses. Rachel wanted a burrito after the race, and even though we were in a city known for deep dish pizza and fancy hot dogs, we obliged. Trump card: 26 miles. Then we took some obnoxious photos and all went back to our homes - the Scotts to Boston, Jennie to grad school and me to Overland Park.
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These photos jumped out at me as a tremendous flashback to how much life changes in 8 years. The three of us probably didn't ever imagine where life would go between now and then. Jennie still lives in Chicago with her husband, Joe, and Rachel has moved three more times to three different states. And Rachel and I were housemates for two years - something not even on our radar in 2006. We are waiting for Jennie's baby #1 (c'mon already!), and I've cuddled and loved all three of Rachel's sweet baby boys.  Rachel is getting ready to run another marathon (in New York City), and I'm getting ready to move for another time. But this time I get to move in with my soon-to-be husband.

Is there any question that the plans God has for us are far greater than what we can ever imagine? And I'm a big dreamer and doer. Loved this trip to Chicago in 2006 and love that Jennie and Rachel will be there with me as bridesmaids when I get to marry Kip in 36 days.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

BOTAR Ball 2014.

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Saturday night the family cleaned up and headed to the Muehlebach for the 65th Annual BOTAR Ball. I swear we didn't intend for our outfits to coordinate, but they totally worked well together! Mom found a new top to wear, Lauren jazzed up a bridesmaid's dress with a new belt from Nordstrom, and I rented the runway.

It was my first time trying the rental service and a total home run. Two sizes of this black sequin dresses arrived on Thursday night, and I was so excited to wear it on Saturday! I was able to chose from a wide variety of dresses that they have in extra length, so it hit the floor when I was wearing flats Saturday night.
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My friend Amy, corresponding secretary, had the perfect dress for Saturday night. Seriously, we all loved how much it matched the style of the ball and her personality. Her boyfriend Matt came in from Houston, and we had a great time getting to know him better while dressed to the nines. The presenters wear tuxes with tails and GLOVES. As Lauren says, this is good practice for next month when Kip and I walk down the aisle again!
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My favorite exec dress belonged to the VP Ball, Kristin. The red bow was just so perfect! Kip and I have both enjoyed our time with all the exec members and their plus ones. On Sunday morning, all of exec gathers for a brunch and to recap the night, and I think that was one of my most favorite parts. Maybe for Kip too because there was bacon and sausage.
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Kip has really mastered the art of the Luhrs Ladies group photo. So proud.
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The inside of the ballroom was amazing. It looked like we were up on the twentieth floor of a high rise looking out at a city with huge city scenes hung on all the walls. I bet you are imagining something worthy of a high school prom. Stop, erase that mental image and replace it with FLOOR TO CEILING wall hangings. I have never seen anything like it. The president surprised everyone also with a gorgeous white dance floor which fit the theme perfectly. I don't have a picture of the BOTARs dress, but it was extremely flattering on everyone with a black top and full ivory skirt.

The tables were lit with these amazing boxes of gladiolas and calla lilas or hydrangeas. Even the tables were different this year with big rectangles instead of traditional ovals, and they were covered with beautiful long white and black tablecloths. The president had the brilliant idea to move a bar inside the ballroom for better access and set up a very hip lounge in the back of the room. These cool high back sofas and low tables with stools were a brilliant and purposeful addition. 
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Kip really didn't mind anything too much (except the gloves - that's where "it almost went too far!"), and I even talked him into dancing a few songs with me. Lauren was very busy the week of the ball as she worked as reservations assistant to be sure that over 700 people were in the right spots at tables. She's got a math and numbers head that made her extremely helpful to the reservations chair.
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After dinner there was a big flash mob on the dance floor to the song "Happy." I had been secretly practicing by myself because I thought Kip would be so surprised. He will always catch me in the house dancing to a song on the TV! I don't know that he was that shocked because I didn't manage to pull off the "casual" walk to the dance floor. As Amy put it, I basically sprinted to the dance floor because I didn't want to miss a beat. Kip just also thought it was just "something we do at meetings!" I think we probably looked amazing on the dance floor, but I haven't seen video yet. I DO know it was so fun, and if you want to perform it at my wedding, I will send you the link.
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Here we are enjoying the lounge area at the end of the night! Mom and Lu headed home around midnight, and Kip and I made it to the after party with other exec members and all the BOTAR class. We are certainly not 22 anymore, so we mostly enjoyed the after party because of the chips and guacamole and a chance to sit down.

We had a fabulous time. I mostly kept saying, "Oh, on November 29th I need to remember this..." It's crazy that in less than six weeks, Kip and I will be getting dressed up again for our wedding! He'll wear a tux without tails and no gloves, and I think my dress will definitely be not black. Unless it never arrives, and then I might rent this one again. Just kidding. I love my dress, and it should be here any day now.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Oktoberfest Football Tailgate Shower.

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Oktoberfest is easily one of our favorite K-State tailgate traditions (year 1, year 2, year 3). This year Karen and Don took it to a new level by combining it with a couples shower earlier this month for the game against Texas Tech. The first surprise were hilarious faux Oktoberfest outfits - Lederhosen t-shirt for Kip and a silly Dirndl t-shirt for me. Kip's official looking hat fit perfectly, and instantly we were outfitted for the party.
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The second surprise was Willie. We left extra early from Kansas City and arrived in time to see the special visitor. I think I haven't seen Willie recently up close and personal, so it was so fun to have our photo taken with the beloved mascot - in our costumes and just in purple too!
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Willie got into the Oktoberfest spirit too and took a couple pictures with Kip's hat on too!
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Kate hadn't been to a game in a very long time (maybe nine years!), and we were so glad that she could come along. The Texas Tech game was very close to Mom's and Kate's birthday, and we had a great time taking Kate along to the game. Kip drove us up to the game and said he loved listening to the banter and chatter from Lauren, Kate, Mom and me as we drove.
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Anne made a fabulous purple veil for me and let me snuggle her baby, so that was all around awesome. Kip was in charge of opening the gifts, and he had the best three-year-old helper, Everett. With each present, Everett would carefully turn and hand it to his mom to pack up for us. Except for a new hat that the Nortons gave Kip - Everett thought that it fit his head pretty perfectly. The gifts were all either K-State or purple, and they were so fun to open and unpack at Kip's house. I think we will be hosting some K-State basketball watch parties this winter when we get settled in a bit more!
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I've been teasing my friends about how nicely everything was scheduled this fall. Starting with the bachelorette party back in August, every three weeks we have had another party getting ready for our wedding. Six members of book club had tickets to the Texas Tech game, so they got to celebrate AGAIN!
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I love this little family! Everett is at that super fun age where he asks a lot of questions and really loves to play. He's darling to watch with all the babies too!
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I handed Maddie to Kip so that I could do something else, and she immediately cuddled up and put her thumb in her mouth. She kills me.
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Kip's family lives very close to the stadium, and we were so excited that they could come over to join all the fun and meet more of our friends and family. Kip's mama also was happy to hold all the babies too. You can see my new purple fleece in this photo - the Nortons purchased it for me in Wisconsin at one of our favorite breweries, and it's perfect for fall K-State games!
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It was a little bit longer tailgate day and a great Wildcat victory, but all the babies did so well! I love this photo of Erica and Anne and their cute babies all Ergoed up and ready to go.
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Kate and I explored the new west side for a little bit during the game. I snapped this photo of Bill overlooking the parking lot at sunset. It was a very good day in Manhattan.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

The Three Books of September.

 photo Blog_0736.jpgBack in September I read two books and listened to one more. It feels ages ago so let's get to the point.

Landline was the second book we read from the darling author Rainbow Rowell. Eleanor & Park totally captured my attention, and I pretty much read it all on the day my sister was sworn in to the Kansas Bar. Landline was less this way, I think because the main character was seriously different than me. I want to say she was flawed, but that's a pretty judgmental way to look at it. She just made different life choices than I would make. And it wasn't a happy story for many parts - not a fun read for while you are planning a wedding. It's largely about a marriage that has quite possibly almost fallen apart. I'll continue to recommend Eleanor & Park all day and all night, but I feel sort of "meh" about Landline. This won't stop me from permanently joining the Rainbow Rowell bandwagon, but I think I'll try her other young adult book, Fangirl, next. Landline is definitely NOT young adult, which was a bit of confusion for other book club members who were coming in with a love of Eleanor & Park and adolescent angst.

In Defense of Food I listened to while driving to and from work and around town. It was not the "page turner" that Dad is Fat was last month, but it was interesting. It was horribly depressing and often confusing for the first 80% of the book. Essentially Michael Pollan's argument is that we have been eating the wrong food for a long time thanks to "nutrionism" and poor journalism. When you get to the final 20% of the book, he does make some really interesting points about what we eat. The first ones resonated most strongly - eat real food that your grandmother would recognize or food that is at least made with ingredients your grandmother would recognize. And that's why I started making my own bread. I wish that this has just been a long article in the Atlantic or something instead of a whole book, but once I was started I needed to get to the recommendations so I didn't feel like my life was ruined.

The Magic Room was a much better choice to read while planning a wedding. My cousin Sasha gave it to me at one of the showers this fall, and it was a beautiful book. I really can't figure out why none of my friends read it when they were getting married - it's the perfect gift for a bride-to-be. Centered around this bridal store in Michigan, it tells the story of the store open since the 1930s and many of the customers. There are some tremendous love stories in the book, and I cried a few times. I love the subtitle on the book - A story about the love we wish for our daughters. Sums it up perfectly.

If you're missing the blog on these long weeks in between posts, be sure to read The League Pulse. It's the blog of the Junior League of Kansas City, Missouri, and I'm honored to write all the posts. There's also a link in the sidebar. Click over today to read all about Holiday Mart, coming to KC this week!

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Why We Take Kids on Field Trips.

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On September 25th, we took 120 middle school students to the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art to see the new Plains Indians exhibit. I don't have any classes of my own, so I worked with our 8th grade teachers to make it happen. We made it a field trip for the entire grade and added in our lifeskills class as well. It is critically important to me that our students experience greater Kansas City community. Because the students haven't studied that much yet about the Plains Indians, they didn't totally understand why we were going. But they were willing to go pretty much anywhere for the day to miss a day of school.

It was a lot of work. We organized the students into 8 groups of 15 with one adult in each group. This worked for the most part, though I would have been thrilled with two adults in each group. My mom helped with mine and still there were times where I would have loved to be able to step away and address an issue with another group. I also struggled because they weren't my kids. Sure, I know a lot of the students in the 8th grade. But that's different than being a classroom teacher and knowing all the ins and outs of 8th graders in our group. They are seriously my favorite grade.
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The day was split into two parts - a workshop and the Plains Indians tour. The only place for groups to eat lunch at the Nelson-Atkins is outside, so the best field trips happen early in the year while the weather is still cooperating. We had an hour for lunch so we explored the teepees on the lawn and students LOVED the glass labyrinth in the sculpture park. I really did NOT love the labyrinth. Talk about chaos - 100 middle school students running into glass walls while screaming.

The groups that did the workshop in the afternoon were probably a little better off than my group which did the workshop first. Making "scribble bots" (robots that students designed and used to make art and then got to keep!) was super fun. And while the Plains Indians exhibit is amazing, it's tough to be on a tour in the afternoon for an hour. Mom and I would have liked to sit down as well! Our students did a pretty great job, but it made for a long day for students who normally sit all day. Many napped on the bus on the way home, and I'm not sure how the volleyball players rallied for their game that afternoon.

Taking the group on a field trip made for a very long Thursday. I found myself very hot and almost in tears several times because the experience is just so much. The kids are there to just have fun, but when students are able to work independently on their art or answer questions in the galleries, I get overwhelmingly proud. And they aren't even my kids! I also get frustrated when the execution of the field trip isn't exactly like I think it should be, but I don't know that any of the other adults were as frustrated as I was. Or even noticed. It's so emotional to me because I want our students to really see Kansas City, to interact with art and history in ways that are meaningful. They came back to school with exhausted smiles and robot creations, so I think it was worth it.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Apples and Distractions.

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With less than two months until the wedding, it's no surprise that people love to ask about how the plans are coming along. Truthfully, honestly, it's pretty much a breeze. We planned so much over the summer that the work for the wedding is in tiny DIY details and finalizing schedules. And waiting for my dress to come in - I maybe forgot to tell you that it was ordered correctly but arrived in the wrong length. Where the hem hits the ground matters when you're six feet tall. So we're waiting but not worried. Extra incentive to just keep hitting the pavement and going to bar until the dress arrives to start the fitting process.

Where I truly feel stressed and overwhelmed is in the moving process. After three years in my own little house, I need to purge, prioritize and pack what goes to Kip's house. He's lived in his house for almost eight years, and for several years it was a bachelor pad. He's diligently cleaning and prepping the house for his roommate wife, but oh boy, our to-do list still stretches out ahead of us. A few friends have suggested hiring someone to clean, but really it's the slow work of purging and updating that we have to plod through ourselves. Two weeks ago Kip pulled EVERYTHING out of the kitchen cabinets, deep cleaned the inside, and then lined them with new shelf paper. I did not ask him to do this. He just did it. I love him.

So last weekend we unpacked our shower gifts, running loads in the dishwasher and leaving piles for Kip to wash by hand and put away. We washed all of our lovely new linens and folded them carefully while the Royals played the A's. Kip and I decided that painting the old dining room/new office before I moved in my large office furniture would be a good idea, so instead of spending hours on pinterest looking for wedding ideas, I just scroll for paint colors. I finally feel like we're getting close to the right choices now, which is good news because I think Kip would prefer to not discuss the neutralness of neutrals any longer.

Sometimes the wedding and house projects get further sidelined by distractions. My mom came home a couple weeks ago with the purpose of helping prepare invitations, but there were apples covering my kitchen counters. So while we did stamp and address about sixty invitations that day, we also made and canned so much applesauce. Kip and I both take packed lunches to work, and the applesauce won't last that long. You really should see the kid eat. It's beautiful applesauce, and I had to move it into storage so I would stop picking it up and admiring it. I bought this tool, and my life is better for it. All four batches were made with apples peeled and cored by the Victorio, and then cooked down without sugar and spices to lovely chunky applesauce. We figured that plain was better as Kip can cinnamon it up on the other side, and it really required no sugar.

Please send help for my canning addiction. Or more jars. We've used up all we have.

I also made homemade bread twice in the past week. With whole wheat and yeast and a first and second rise. I know, I know, this is straight up ridiculous. But I was listening to this book and decided we could definitely eat better bread at home. Sometimes the distractions from wedding planning and moving are ridiculous, but they are often delicious.
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I think the need to bake and can alongside the need to spray paint easels for table numbers is the need for projects that can be finished. Working on the house will probably never end and even crossing some of the items off the house to-do list seems very slow. But I can show you the bread that I made - it makes excellent toast and PB & Js - and we will enjoy all the fruits and preserves all winter long. We have crossed a few items off the wedding list, the big one being that the invitations are all addressed, stuffed and sealed and went in the mail this week. Kip says over and over again, "We'll get it all done. We'll get there." I'm working hard on remembering that with less than two months to go!

Thursday, October 2, 2014

American Royal, the ROYALS, and the Plaza Art Fair.

When I used to be a scrapbooker, I sometimes painfully made myself print photos and scrapbook something just to have proof it happened. I was never sorry in the end because I have pages and pages of random events that make a collection of memories of really good years. This post is kind of like those scrapbook pages. Proof it happened - that we have had the best fall full of really fun events - but without a lot of great stories. Here's a photo dump with limited commentary and a lot of photos. 
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Lauren's firm has their fancy party during the Plaza Art Fair each year, and it's a fun excuse to get dressed up and head to the Plaza. We went to the party for a while and then made a giant loop through the fair. We didn't buy any art but ran into a few friends and enjoyed KC at it's best. Last year, I made my mom leave early so I could go to dinner with Kip. That was the date where it became really clear to both of us that this was it. I think my mom is over it now and is excited to have him as a son-in-law.
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My sister wisely decided that she wanted to go to the Royals game for her birthday. The last home game - of the regular season - was just two days before her birthday. My mom, Ashley, Lauren, Kip, and I headed to the K to watch the Royals beat their nemesis the Detroit Tigers. It was my fourth Royals game this year, and I'm so glad that we can still cheer the team into October. #takethecrown
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The BOTAR parties and American Royal events keep rolling as well. We went to BOTAR Night at the Royal last Friday and enjoyed the view from the Governor's Deck. The women on the right are on exec with me, and I straight up adore them and their families.
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The horseback riding in the parade never materialized, but I think the back-up option of a carriage with the rest of exec was an excellent second choice. Amy let me sit on the left side so I'm easy to spot in the photos Mom took!
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Here's the full group of BOTARs and escorts. That was me once upon a time too. Ah to be young and carefree!
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Typically a group of BOTARs, friends and family gather at the Cashew to watch the parade. Mom, Lauren and Kip were there and came out onto the street for the part when we rode by in the carriages. Kind of a bummer that someone had "reserved" the patio but wasn't actually using it, but we could still see great from right inside the bar. One of the best bands we saw was from Washington High School - the Dotte is hot!
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I felt like I needed some new clothes for the Rodeo and the parade, and Nigros came through with a clutch new pair of jeans and this great sweater (vest?) after work on Friday. I love the jeans so much that you may see them around town with cowboy boots just because I can. After the parade, Kip and I visited with Mom and Lauren for a little bit before heading up to the third floor for a BOTAR party. It's the same gorgeous location as where we had my ten-year-reunion in 2011. I love love love fall in Kansas City.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Sparkle Bridal Shower.

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Rachel shared a little bit about "The Most Epic Party" yesterday on her blog. Slowly but surely, we will get all the fabulous party details blogged. I'll tell a little bit more today about the party and the wonderful people who were there celebrating with me.

We were extremely lucky that our pals at Anecdotally Yours let Rachel, Abbey and Tara use their studio space. We seriously can't say enough about the good things Erica and Jeff have done for us - remember our engagement photos and the impromptu Manhattan trip? Tara rented chairs and tables, and there was plenty of space for socializing and sitting during the present opening.
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The gorgeous invitations said, "She leaves a little sparkle wherever she goes" and the theme was a rocked out version of everything we have loved lately - bright colors, gold glitter, and black & white stripes. I found a dress months ago and saved it for the occasion (Ann Taylor in tall!).

People came from all over to attend the shower, and I was extremely blessed by the crowd of family and friends who were there to celebrate. Kip's family came in from Manhattan, and everyone was glad to meet Kip's sweet mama. There was both a quiz and a video with Kip answering interview questions, and I know she got a kick out of both of those party games!
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I told Rachel she could not also wear a black and white striped dress so she found this gold skirt. This wedding has been a fantastic excuse to see Rachel - three times in the past three months is definitely a record in the three years since I moved home from Virginia. And my mom was there too, obviously. She's over the moon at every party and a very proud mama.
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My aunt Bethany came from Mankato, Katherine from Goodland, my stepmom and grandma from Indianapolis, and one more surprise visitor that I totally didn't expect to see (more below!)
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Kip took my dad, grandpa Fred and his brother and dad to a sports bar during the shower for some dude time. They reported back at the end to help with clean-up duty. Allison was there with her fabulous cupcakes, and they matched the theme perfectly. Of course.
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These ladies filled my heart and my house for the weekend. Katherine gave us the "cheese markers" which is related to a long (and pointless) story from college. I loved at the shower there were lots of times to tell some of our favorite stories from long ago, as well as getting to share all about my relationship with Kip.
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Here are two of the biggest surprises: Candi Hironka and a gorgeous quilt made my grandma Mary. Candi knew a long time ago that she wouldn't be able to make the wedding, but she hated to miss the celebration. So she called my mom up and said, I've got to come for a shower. I was talking to my mom when she walked in behind me, and I instantly teared up. This woman is a role model and one of my favorite mentors from K-State. She came from Boise, Idaho and having her at the shower was really very special. Candi also got to meet Kip and visit with him before and after the shower, probably spending more time with both of us than if she had made the wedding. My mom said the look on my face was priceless when she walked in - it was a well kept secret and surprise!

My grandma Mary is the gifted quilter of the family, and I opened her present at the end of the shower. The leaves are fitting for my arborist fiance and all the black and gold we are using throughout the wedding. It's beautiful in the picture above, so you can imagine how great it looks in person. It was the perfect quilt for Kip and me.
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These women went above and beyond what I could even imagine in hosting this party. And Tara did while nine months pregnant too (baby Archer was born yesterday!). I felt really special and loved the whole time - and I can only hope that's what I've made possible for others over the years. It was crazy to look around the room and think about all the babies and weddings we have celebrated together.